How Art Inspires Art- The Depths of Dance- by Linda Strathdee

DANCE1-INKOver a year ago, I had participated in a master class blues workshop in which each of us were critiqued individually about our dancing by both the instructors and the other participants.  We were then given tips on what improvements we could make and then were to dance in front of the audience again, this time keeping in mind these suggestions in order to see and feel how they could transform our dancing.

I learned so much from that workshop, but unexpectedly, one of the most memorable components of it was a dance by two student participants I had never met before- Patrick and Linda.  They didn’t do anything particularly fancy or flashy in their dance, but their connection to each other and the music was so sweet and heartfelt. Continue reading

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Reminisce on VIS- Interview #4- Juan Matos

Juan1-208x300I was thrilled when I heard that Juan Matos was going to be part of the VIS line up!  I still remember repeatedly watching one of his videos years ago, when I was first introduced to salsa.  And even back then, I was just completely blown away by the fluidity and smoothness of his moves and his unique style. How does he do that? I kept asking myself.  In fact, it was legendary dancers like him who got me so intrigued by salsa and inspired me to want to dance. So you can only imagine the excitement I felt when Mr. Matos enthusiastically agreed to give me ten minutes of his time at VIS, even though he was just about to head out to the airport to catch his flight back home. Instead of rushing out, the hotel doors, he backtracked and followed me to the nearest couch in the hotel lobby. He put his suitcase down next to him and was so attentive and interested in my questions. To think, I almost missed him!  I was so grateful for the amazing conversation we had as well as his very down to earth and approachable nature.

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Reminisce on VIS- Interview #2

James and Alex8James and Alex

(Interview #2 of 5.  To read interview #1- Giana and Nery- click here)

I walked into James’ and Alex’s cha cha workshop a little low in energy. I was tired and wasn’t sure I would make it through the class.  But it turned out to be one of my favourite workshops because Alex and James were so fun. In fact, the combination of the music they chose, the playful choreography they put together for us, and their own charisma, made me forget about my sluggishness earlier.  Instead, I found myself laughing and enjoying myself all the way through, and I also left reenergized!

I really enjoyed your cha cha workshop today.  Is it one of your favorite dances? You seem to have a lot of fun with it.

James: More and more now, it almost seems like we prefer cha cha over salsa (smiles).  And it helps that because of our cha cha performance, we are getting asked to do more and more cha cha workshops.  You can play with the timing a little more. You can put your own routines together for it in a way that can be a bit more interesting and more unique than the regular old patterns. But really, we like both.

Alex: But the energy does often seem to be much higher in cha cha workshops. It’s fun. You can have a laugh with it. Cha cha is very loose. As long as you feel it, you can do whatever you want in it, really.

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“My goal is… just to make the world dance.” -Ryan Morrissette

“Those who say it cannot be done shouldn’t interrupt the people doing it.”

– Chinese Proverb

This is definitely one of my favourite quotes because it continues to remind me of the power of our own inner strength, despite the obstacles we might face.  But what I love the most is meeting people who prove to be amazing examples of this- those individuals who, because of their own will, passion, and courage, manage to go beyond what they might normally be thought capable of doing, and then often inspire others to do the same.

Little did I know that one of these individuals, who I had the pleasure of meeting  recently, Ryan1would be a young teen- Ryan Morrissette.  Ryan, a member of the hip hop crew Freshh,  is a talented, charismatic dancer whose energy is well, … contagious, to say the least.  His hard hits, quick and clean moves, and overall enthusiasm on stage definitely draw the attention of his audiences.   But even off stage, Ryan seems to often be found smiling and sharing a positivity with friends and strangers alike that is truly refreshing.  So when I heard that this young dancer has been dealing with a serious health condition since the age of two, I couldn’t believe it. You’d just never know that Ryan has Cystic Fibrosis if you saw him out there – the way he always seems to be giving it his all- whether on stage dancing, or co-emceeing and event, or just hanging out with his friends.

But that’s what Ryan does- he gives his utmost to this passion he has for dance, and to life in many ways, it seems.  In fact, rather than letting CF stop him from pursuing his love of dance, Ryan uses dance as a way to heal his condition and to reach others out there to remind them to live life to the fullest. “I wasn’t supposed to be able to do a lot of cardiovascular exercise,” says Ryan. But if you saw him out there, training, leaping, doing flips and tricks- well, Ryan has pushed through many physical obstacles that might otherwise cause another person in his shoes to not even attempt any of it.  And that kind of perseverance is extraordinary . Continue reading

The Art of Dance- by Gabriel Galedo

Gabe 5“I got inspired to dance because of my brother.  Him and his friends- they had a dance group and they didn’t really have a place to practise, so they practised in our garage.  I’d sit down and just watch them and thought it was really cool. And then I’d find myself in the mirror, trying to bust a move or two myself (smiles).

But yeah, why dance? As you mature, as you grow up in this environment, what people don’t really understand is that Dance is an art.  Like in a painting, people paint how they feel, right? Well, in dance, your choreography, or just how you freestyle, could depend on your emotions, how you feel inside too.  Dance also builds your self- confidence.  You become more confident in what you do, in dance, and in other parts of your life too.

And even if we can inspire just one person to take a dance class or something, well, that’s all we ever really wanted to do as a team, I think.  It’s not always really about winning competitions or being high class dancers.   It’s just about showing that we do honestly care about a lot of people out there.  And we hope that what we do can help them in the future.”

– Gabriel Galedo – Age 14- member of The Freshh Crew

Photo Feature #3- AliRaza Panju

Photo by AliRaza Panju

“Everything in the universe has rhythm. Everything dances.”- Maya Angelou

(Thank you Arassay Reyes and Danzaire Productions for sharing this amazing quote on your website. It has inspired this piece to come together as well as opening my eyes up even more to the connection between dance and our daily lives in general).

Photo by AliRaza Panju

It is with great excitement that I  share that this month’s header photo was taken by a very creative photographer and friend – AliRaza Panju.

Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Ali currently lives in Vancouver, BC, and is studying business. Ali has an obvious knack for using a camera. And I am thrilled to be able to feature this talented photographer and a range of his photos on Dance Me Free this month!

“Finally… some relaxation time,… time to catch up on some photography,” and “My best friend… my camera,” are just a few of the messages Ali posts on facebook, obviously very passionate about his art.

Photo by AliRaza Panju

But it’s not until you actually take the time to look through this artist’s photos yourself that you truly understand how deeply Ali loves taking pictures but also the unique way in which he sees the world. Because through his photos, Ali is able to transform our everyday interactions with the people and our surroundings – moments that are often overlooked and hardly noticed by others- into creative visual stories that we can’t help but to be drawn to listen to, look at.

Every one of Ali’s photos- whether they be of a face, or of fireworks, or of a beach, or cultural event- seems to enliven its subject in a way that reaches out to  the viewer and makes us ‘feel’ something. Whether it is joy, sadness, curiosity, tenderness or a sense of peace, the photos remind us of all the beauty that surrounds us, even in the simplest of things.  And I guess it takes a photographer like Ali to bring this to our attention.

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Exceptional dancers are also exceptional people…

Quote

“When a dancer comes onstage, he is not just a blank slate that the choreographer has written on.  Behind him he has all the decisions he has made in life… Each time, he has chosen, and in what he is onstage, you see the result of those choices.  You are looking at the person he is, and the person who, at this point, he cannot help but be…  Exceptional dancers, in my experience, are also exceptional people, people with an attitude toward life, a kind of quest, and an internal quality.  They know who they are, and they show this to you, willingly.”

– Mikhail Baryshnikov